Seka Has Struck Again!

My good friend Seka Heartley has finally released another erotic masterpiece in her Dirk Moorcock series, Romance Raiders of The Lost Continent. This time, Dirk is a former World War I ace who is hired by the mysterious Countess Rideatop to explore a land unknown to science (unless science reads a lot of Jules Verne that is). Dinosaurs! Intrigue! And Adventure! Oh, my.

Just a reminder though. Seka does not write for young readers. As Dirks amourous adventures can be as thrilling as his dogfights and saber duels. So, if you’re over 21, have a twisted sense of humor and love a good laugh, I highly recommend this spin-off to Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy.

Clayton J. Callahan

 

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Solo Vs. Star Wars

Image result for new han solo compared to old han solo

On the whole, I applaud the plethora of new Star Wars films coming out these days such as Solo: A Star Wars Story. Oh, maybe to me they aren’t as good as the original movies, but then again…I’m not ten years old anymore.

Perhaps that’s what makes the new stuff a challenge for us old-school fans. In the 1970s and 80s, we were all at a very different place in our lives. We had no preconceived ideas about how a Star Wars movie “should be” in 1977. We were a blank slate in that regard and we accepted the Force and the hyperdrives without much fuss. Now, however, we are in our late 40’s and 50’s. We feel we know best how a Star Wars movie should look, feel and taste.

Even though I am affected by this virus as much as any older fan, I try to keep it in check. After all, much of the fun of seeing any new Star Wars film is discovering another person’s interpretation of Gorge Lucas’ original vision. Which brings us to Solo: A Star Wars Story.

First off, I have to give kudos to the entire cast. Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover both did excellent jobs. I imagine it is very difficult for an actor to follow behind another actor’s interpretation of a character, but both these guys pulled it off flawlessly. And frankly, for me, that’s the most important part; the characters.

I love characters. Rich, textured, deep, and convoluted characters make for the best fiction. Thus, one of my chief complaints about The Matrix wasn’t the world building…but that I never gave a crap about one-dimensional Neo! Give me characters I care about and any movie or book is well on the way to giving me a story I care about. Skip that part, and you might as well go home and forget about it.

Comming back to Solo: A Star Wars Story, I must say it could have done better. Here’s where I hike up my old-fogy pants and shout, “Kids, get off my lawn” I suppose, but I felt the film put too much emphasis on action and not enough on characters. In total, I counted eight action scenes in the movie whereas the original Star Wars had only five. The action in Solo was done well, but it took time away from character building scenes that I felt the movie could have used more of. In fact, my favorite scene of the film is where Tobias Beckett teaches Chubacca how to play space chess. The scene is short but it connects us to the old beloved original movie while deepening our understanding of who this Tobias guy is.

Perhaps that’s modern movies on the whole for me. Too much well-choreographed action and not enough well-written character scenes. In the original Star Wars, Lucas took his time. We had long conversations between characters like Luke and his Uncle and Aunt. We had meaningful banter between Han and Leia.

Of course, I write books, not movies. Action scenes connect with an audience differently on a screen than on a page. Characters, however, are just as important in both mediums. and it’s characters that matter.

Games, Good God Y’all, What Are They Good For?

So, here’s the thing, I’ve been playing board games, card games, role-playing games, and the like all of my life. But no matter what I play, I’ve learned that what really matters is how I play, because that makes all the difference.

I had an athlete once tell me that, “This is serious. It’s a game. You have to win!” and I couldn’t disagree more. Think about your life for a moment; in school, you have to pass, in jobs, you have to succeed, and marriage is something that requires a 100% commitment to making it work…but games?

Games are the one area of our lives that failure results in no lasting penalty. You don’t have to repeat your freshman year if you lose at Warhammer 40K. You don’t lose your source of income when you’re armies are wiped off the board in Risk. And your wife will not leave you if you fail to reach the high score in Donkey Kong (unless she has lots of weird issues). Games are in fact the one place where it is safe to lose in a world that can be brutally hard on failure.

Thus, games are the ultimate escape from our chained reality. Games offer us the chance to explore possibilities in a relatively consequence-free environment as we let down our heavy load. And once the game is done, we often find ourselves refreshed and ready for the next challenge our real life throws at us.

In short, games are for fun.

Now, my first structured game was probably chess. My father taught me when I was six years old, and I have loved the game ever since. First, he showed me how the pieces moved and we played a few games to give me the hang of it. Later he told me that you needed to say “check” when threatening another person’s king, and then he taught me how to castle and how to get my queen back by advancing a pawn. So even at six, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the game. Dad made it easy by gradually pulling me deeper and deeper in.

My dad also lost to a six-year-old surprisingly often. He would set up situations that put himself in peril just to see if I noticed them and applaud me when I did. Did I win all the time? Heck no. Dad kicked my butt about 75% of the time, however, he never gloated and was always quick to congratulate me when I played better than I did in the game before.

I still love chess. My dad, Ronald J. Callahan, passed away in 1980.

A few years back, I was visiting my mom and my step-father had this beautiful hardwood chess set laid out on his coffee table. I complimented him on it, and he challenged me to a game. “Sure, I’d love to,” I said and we picked who would play white and who would play black. When we sat down, he warned me that he’d worked as an ad manager for the National Chess Federation and had spent his lunch breaks learning advanced moves from the masters. “Cool,” I replied, as I got ready for what I hoped would be a challenging game. It was challenging indeed, but more so for him. I won…twice.

My step-father did not take it well. In fact, he stormed out of the room and we’ve never played chess since. Frankly, I still feel sorry for the guy. At seventy, he has yet to learn what I did at six; that games are for fun!

Sure, you try to win at games, but only because trying to win is part of the fun. If you lose but enjoyed the challenge–you won. If you lose but learned something that makes you a better player next time–you won. If you walk away from the game table feeling refreshed and ready for life’s real challenges–you won big!

And if you take the wrong mindset into gameplay, you are not winning, you are just wasting your time.

By Clayton J. Callahan

Good Trippy Fun: The Avengers!

No, not Marvel’s Avengers. I’m talking about the British television series that aired from 1961 to ’69.

I have recently re-discovered The Avengers and I love it. This very British, very 60s, TV show would appear on late night television when I was but a wee lad back in Dayton, Ohio,  when Jimmy Carter was president (we miss you, Jimmy, we really do). At the time I thought it was okay, but it wasn’t really geared for kids.

Watching it as an adult, I find it to be a much sillier show than I remember, but oh so much fun! The program ran for almost the entire psychedelic decade but peaked when the show’s regular hero, Agent John Steed (Patrick Macnee), was paired with the deadly and talented Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) from 1965 to ’68.

As acting teams go, you just can’t get any better than Macnee and Rigg. They simply had an outstanding rapport, and easily half the fun of the show is watching them joust with each other. I say “joust” because the relationship between the two characters was always professional. Emma Peel’s husband was somehow lost in the Amazon, and Steed was far too gentlemanly to proposition another man’s wife. Thus, they performed as a dazzling sort of “buddy cop” team, not a romantic couple, and it was sensational!

To be sure, Dame Diana Rigg’s Mrs. Peel character is far better remembered. She was a tough, smart, sarcastic woman to be reckoned with, and the inspiration for the Marvel Avenger-Black Widdow. Seldom had such a woman been portrayed before on big screen or small, and the positive feminist message remains inspiring to women and to people who like women.

However, Agent John Steed was no slouch either. Whereas Emma Peel represented the modern age, in her jumpsuits and sports cars, Steed was the old-fashioned man. As chivalrous as any knight, he had a penchant for vintage automobiles, bowler hats, and dapper manners. He was witty, clever and extremely good-natured, the kind of chap you’d gladly invite over for tea once a week.

Both characters were supposedly deadly masters of hand-to-hand combat…but oh boy…the fight choreography was laughable. Emma’s sloppy karate and Steed’s flailing about with his umbrella always triumphed over the villains, but only because the script said so, and it showed.

But speaking of the villains, you will never find a more kooky bunch of weirdos trampling across a television screen than in The Avengers. No ordinary villains for these heroes to fight–heavens no! Mad scientists, bizarre conspiracies, secret organizations, and super spies are constantly bent on destroying all that is right and good in Britain, and only Emma and Steed can stop them.

The show is everything we fondly remember the 1960s for. It was trippy, cool, silly, and fun. If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend you do.

See You at Orycon

Just in time for the new release of Tales of The Screaming Eagle, I will be speaking at Orycon this weekend (November 17 through 19, 2017).

I will be on several convention panels ranging in topics ranging from Getting Your First Professional Sale to Wonder Woman-How to Be Her (and I promise to do my best on that one). To be frank, Orycon is a blast, and my family and I look forward to it every year. The fact that it coincides with the release of a new book makes it all the sweeter this time around.

Tales of The Screaming Eagle is a space bar novel set in the Star Run Universe.  The story revolves around a lost graduate student on a remote colony world and the salty veterans of The Screaming Eagle who take him into their bar and into their trust. So far, it’s been one of my most popular books and besides a new and better cover, all that has changed in the new edition is some phrasing and a reworked prolog. I hope my fans approve.

Well, that’s it for now. I hope to see as many of you at the Con as possible.

Cheers!

New Cover Comming For Passion Pirates

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As many of you know, my “good friend,” Seka Heartly has written a space opera parody called Passion Pirates of The Lost Galaxy. It’s a hilarious, if very raunchy, spoof of science fiction tropes that is far more funny than erotic…but it’s also erotic.

Trouble is, the current cover has not exactly propelled the book to the literary heights that are it’s due. So a new cover has been commissioned and is now awaiting colorization. Here, we see the bold and daring Dirk Moorcock ready for action with Conductor Sobo of the Gamoran Marching band ready to battle the dreaded Rift Pirates in order to save the planet Cin.